Last Updated on January 11, 2021 by Nick Baskett
Dr. AK Singh, Deputy Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has urged the scientists to focus on promoting suitable cocoa varieties and production technologies to reduce its imports to the country and to be eventually self-sufficent in its own cocoa production.
Speaking at the 105th Foundation Day celebration of the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) based in the Kasaragod district of India, through a virtual platform, Dr. AK Singh said, India imports a large quantity of cocoa beans and powder to bridge the gap between supply and demand in the domestic market.
Referring to the data from the International Cocoa Organisation (ICO), he said the prices increased around 20% year on year basis.
Indian cocoa production for 2019-20 was around 25,000 tonnes, up by 7.5% from the previous year. Despite growing demand for chocolate in the region, India imports most of its cocoa.
Considering the increased number of chocolate factories in the country, there is a need for the country to focus on reducing cocoa imports and expanding the cultivation in India.
Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are the main producers of cocoa in the country, Dr. AK Singh urges the scientists to focus on promoting better varieties and production technologies and take them to farmers.
The country’s cocoa production to the global production is very small. More than 75% is grown in the African countries, predominantly Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire and more than 18% in the Americas. Asia produces barely 5.5% and India’s contribution is very low globally.
He said the increase in the prices of vegetable fats is a major concern for chocolate industry in the country, as they use vegetable fats as a substitute for the costlier cocoa fat.
In such a situation, scientist can help develop technologies and connect with the cocoa farmers so that the cost of cocoa production goes down. This will also do away with the vegetable fat as a substitute for cocoa in the chocolate industry.